Thursday, September 25, 2008

Latin American Music and Dance

The term Latin American as used here encompasses the Americas south of the United States, as well as Caribian.

During the colonial period in Latin America (16th-19th centuries) many Amerindian populations were decimated, and much traditional Amerindian musical culture was destroyed or syncretized with Iberian.

Little concrete evidence remains as to the real nature of pre-conquest music in Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations part from the testimony of 16th century Spanish chroniclers and what can be seen of instrument depicted in hieroglyphs and pottery decorations.

Drums, rattles, scrapers, slit drums (hollowed logs), whistles, vertical flutes, and panpipes were found, with almost total absence of stringed instrument. In performing Yeravi song, the huayno song and dance form, and other genres, modern Andean Amerindian still make extensive use of vertical flutes and panpipes, along with European instrument such as bass drums, harps, and guitars of different size.

In Mesoamerica, Indians now plays harps, fiddles, and guitars bass upon archaic Spanish models, or Marimba of African origin. Only in certain tropical areas (as the Amazon basin) are virtually unacculturated song Ameridian musics found.

The Iberian origins of many song and dance form are evident in a widespread predilection for alternating ¾ and 6/8 meters (hemiola), the use of harps, fiddles, guitars, and many song types derived from Spanish verse structures such as the romanze or villancico. These include the corridor of Mexico, desafio of Brazil, copla of Andean country, and decimal of South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

To be continued

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